Ustad Shujaat Khan

Category Instrumental | Tags Sitar

Ustad Shujaat Khan hails from the illustrious Etawah (‘Imdadkhani’) gharana alongside greats such as Ustad Imdad Khan, Ustad Imrat Khan, and Ustad Shahid Parvez. His famous father Vilayat was a highly demanding teacher: “after strumming the strings of the sitar for several exhausting hours, overnight practice that would make my fingers bleed, he felt that I wasn’t good enough. When I performed, there was always the burden of matching the sky-high expectations”.

Despite learning his father’s musical style in impressive depth, their personal bond became strained: “At the age of 17 I left home to carve my own life...rebellion is not easy to stomach. Sleeping exposed in public parks, washing utensils to fund your food, no certainty of your present or future and devoid of familial support, it is a very tough call.”

But he eventually forged his own successful career, taking his family’s innovations in gayaki ang (singing style) even further by singing in unison with his instrument. He has worked in fusion settings, soloing with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and forming the Grammy-nominated band Ghazal with Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri on tabla and Kayhan Kalhor on Persian kamancheh.

"I can’t say I am against tradition; on the other hand I am considered an open modern man – I have never forced lifestyle choices on either of my children; my music reflects my nature and has a lot of new with the old."

• Darbar Player: If short clips aren't Shujaat’s full-length version of Raag Alhaiya Bilawal on the Darbar Player. We’re a small not-for-profit, and filming, editing, and hosting cost money - so subscribing costs $5/month, which we hope is an excellent price for such a wealth of unique music.

—Also see Living Traditions: 21 articles for 21st-century Indian classical music, our new series exploring how music with ancient roots continues to innovate in a fast-paced, interconnected modern world. Expand your appreciation!

Darbar Arts & Heritage believes in the power of Indian classical music to stir, thrill, and inspire. To find out more, get the Darbar newsletter, explore our YouTube channel, or sign up to the Darbar Player to watch extended festival performances in pristine HD quality.

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Founded in 2006, Darbar Arts Culture Heritage Trust (Darbar) believes in the power of Indian classical arts to stir, thrill and inspire. Through digital connectivity, shared experiences and enrichment we ensure that one of the finest art forms reaches the widest possible audience.

Darbar delivers premium quality live events, music education, broadcasts and digital engagement through artistic innovation and creative technology. We are also committed to providing a platform for new talent from the UK and India.

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